Dealing with Naysayers: Tips for Managing Negative People

Dealing with naysayersHave you ever considered the number of people out there who never hesitate to cut you down? Have your dreams and accomplishments ever been attacked and minimized? Dealing with naysayers is an important life skill which I guarantee you will put into practice. 

I have been the recipient and observer of naysayer attacks. It definitely shed light on a dark and all too common feature of some human beings.

“Why would you want to do that? Can’t you find a happier profession? That’s a stupid idea.”

It’s particularly sad when such statements come from people we look up to. It can be crushing.

These statements are just the tip of the iceberg. I could understand such statements if I said I wanted to be a pole dancer or audition for the famous “water scene” in the movie Flashdance. The image of me in leg warmers and a headband is downright disturbing. Naysayers are welcome!

Oftentimes, naysayers employ their practice because they are insecure and unhappy with their own lives. 

They are stuck and feel defeated. The only way to make themselves feel better is by attempting to keep others entrenched in their world of fear and dissatisfaction.

So, how do we deal with such individuals?

  • Avoid them. The easiest way to deal with a naysayer is to avoid them from the beginning. You may not be able to do this, especially if it’s a spouse or immediate family member in your household. If this is the case, consider the next suggestion. 
  • Consider the source. Ask yourself what the heck makes them an expert in your life or your goals? What have they done with their lives? Nobody knows you better than yourself. Remember that. 
  • Don’t take the bait. As the saying goes, “Never wrestle with a pig. You will both get dirty and the pig will like it.” If the naysayer starts their crap, don’t engage them. They want to bring you into their world. Ignore them, tell them you’re not doing this, or simply walk away. 
  • Have faith in yourself. Believe in your goals and the evolution of your life. Tap into your self-esteem and use it as fuel for your cause. 
  • Envision the results of your success. I realize this is a little mean, but think about the naysayer’s reaction(s) when you realize your goal and become a success in your chosen pursuit.
  • Keep your goals to yourself. Or at least until you are with like-minded people. Which leads to the next bullet point.   
  • Strengthen your fortress. Be sure to surround yourself with like-minded, positive people. They will encourage and reenforce your vision and resolve.
  • Guard against becoming a naysayer. We are only human. It’s easy to get caught up in negativity - especially when things aren’t going well for us. Remember how it felt for you as the recipient of such negativity. Be mindful of the words you share with others. Don’t become a naysayer!


I encourage you to put the above suggestions into practice. I have no doubt you will be given plenty of opportunities to do so throughout your life.

Don’t let others pee on your parade.

I certainly won’t.

That should do it. Now I need to check the store’s return policy for headbands and leg warmers. ~Ted

Dealing with Naysayers: 8 Tips for Managing Negative People ~parts adapted via

Here are some ideas for helping the naysayer to work and play well with others:

1. Take them seriously, but not personally

When such people begin a negative rampage, you want to understand what the source of all their bluster is, but you don’t want to take their negativity personally. After all, their words, feelings, and actions reflect what is going on inside of them—it is all about them, not you. Remain calm in order to manage the conversation in an effective way rather than getting drawn into their negativity.

2. Understand the sources of their objections

Acknowledge their disagreement or any negative statements about the situation so they will know that you have heard them, and then ask them questions to understand their perspective. 

For example, you might say something like, “So, if I have heard you correctly, you think that ….Would you help me understand what supports that position?” Listen for them to share the data or evidence that would support their view. Continue to ask questions that surface their reasoning, logic, and supporting information behind their objections. If they can’t answer your questions with some form of a reasoned response, you know that there is probably a more personal issue at stake in this situation.   

3. Offer alternatives

After listening to them, ask them if there is another way to interpret the same set of facts that they are using as support for their argument. If they can’t think of a response, rehearse the evidence they offered and offer a different interpretation of those same facts. This will offer them a different point of view that they may not have considered. Follow up by asking them about your offered viewpoint.

4. Engage them with questions

You can get past their negativity by asking questions. Asking questions creates engagement and moves the conversation forward rather than creating a battle over differing views. If you take the time to understand the other person first, then when you ask for their consideration of your ideas, you are more likely to have their attention.

5. Retrain your brain

When you hear someone use, “Yeah, but...,” you must change any negative interpretation of that phrase to mean that the person has an additional thought or different idea. This will help you to derail your own potential defensive response to their negativity. Be curious and inquisitive about the information that resides behind their “Yeah, but...,” response.

6. Be respectful of different ideas

If there is something positive or important for consideration in their viewpoint, tell them so and express appreciation for their perspective. Sometimes we are quick to exclude ideas that are delivered with disrespect. Move past the mode of delivery and express appreciation for a thought that adds insight to the conversation.

7. Include them if they will be included

Naysayers push people away with their negativity in part because of the perception that they are difficult to deal with and hard to be around. The behavior of others reinforces the naysayers’ perspective that people don’t care for them or don’t want to hear what they have to say. In this way the behavior of the naysayer serves to create the exclusionary behavior of others. Surprisingly, people will sabotage themselves to reinforce the negative beliefs they have of others. Don’t get pulled into this drama. Look past their negativity and avoid being exclusionary because of their poor choice of behavior.   

8. Offer them a bigger picture

Sometimes offering the naysayer the bigger picture of a challenge or an issue will help to shift their perspective. When things don’t go as we planned, we often become so mired in what we want that we lose sight of the broader view of what is important for everyone or what should take priority.

Interacting with someone who is negative can be a challenge on many fronts. What is important is that we see past their negativity in order to understand them and their ideas. This is often difficult because of the manner of their delivery and because of their seemingly disrespectful treatment of others. I can’t guarantee that you will always be successful in winning over a naysayer to your way of thinking, but in trying some of these concepts you are keeping them from making a naysayer out of you.   

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